Prosecutor Hammers Admission of ‘human Guilt’ from Eichmann
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Prosecutor Hammers Admission of ‘human Guilt’ from Eichmann

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Attorney General Gideon Hausner, chief prosecutor of Adolf Eichmann, will resume at tomorrow’s session of the Nazi’s trial the effort he began Friday to smash the defense portrayal of Eichmann as a minor cog in the Nazi bureaucracy set up to wipe out the Jews of Europe. The cross-examination is expected to last all this week.

Mr. Hausner began his cross-examination of Eichmann after nearly three weeks of self-defense testimony. Robert Servatius, Eichmann’s defense counsel, has carefully built up an image of his client as one who totally lacked the authority to fit the indictment as a key executioner of the Nazi plan for the murder of 6, 000, 000 European Jews during World War II.

Again and again, under the careful coaching of his West German counsel, Eichmann replied to incriminating prosecution documents with the unvarying reply that he could not have committed the crimes charged against him because he never gave orders but only carried them out as a specialist in the transport of the doomed Jews. The prosecution finally began on Friday the effort to challenge Eichmann directly on this line of defense.

The audience in the courtroom, which had shrunk steadily during the weeks of Eichmann’s meandering defense statements, was again at full capacity for the dramatic moment of the opening cross-examination. Mr. Hausner began by quoting from Eichmann’s statement to police interrogators, made before the trial opened on April II, in which the Nazi said he knew he would be found guilty of complicity in murder, that he knew the death sentence awaited him, that he had not asked for mercy since no mercy was due him, and that he was ready to hang himself in public to expiate his guilt.


“Are you ready to repeat your statement here and now?” the prosecutor demanded. “I stand on my word,” Eichmann replied, standing stiffly at attention in his glass-enclosed, bullet-proof prisoner’s dock. “You confess, then, that you are an accomplice in the murder of millions of Jews?” Hausner said, his voice rising.

Under Mr. Hausner’s angry questioning, Eichmann stuttered slightly. When he tried to reply with his usual lengthy responses, he was immediately cut short by the prosecutor, who demanded “brief answers, yes or no.” But when the hammering prosecutor repeatedly interrupted the defendant with such demands, presiding Justice Moshe Landau intervened even before Dr. Servatius was able to rise in protest. Justice Landau declared that, while Eichmann should reply briefly, he should also be given the chance to complete his sentences.

In reply to Mr. Hausner’s question on whether he was guilty, Eichmann said:” Yes, from the point of human guilt, but I do not consider myself guilty from a legal point. If some of the Jews found death as a result of deportations, it has to be determined from a legal viewpoint whether I am guilty.”

Mr. Hausner returned to the attack, saying: “My question is not legal. In your heart, do you find yourself guilty of participation in the murder of millions of Jews?”

“From the human point, yes, since I am guilty in the deportations, “Eichmann replied.


Mr. Hausner questioned the defendant closely on the notorious statement he made near the end of the war, to the effect that he would jump into his grave gladly, knowing that 5, 000, 000 Jews had been killed. The prosecutor pointed cut that, during the pre-trial police interrogation, Eichmann had cited himself as saying that millions of enemies died, millions of Germans and an estimated 5,000, 000 Jews; while, in court, he said, before the cross-examination began, that he would go to his grave gladly knowing that 5, 000, 000 enemies of Hitler’s Reich had been destroyed.

Eichmann replied that he did not automatically identify Jews with the “enemies of the Reich” and that he meant the enemies at Germany’s gates. The prosecution challenged Eichmann’s statement that he “did not see in the Jews enemies and opponents of the Reich.” Eichmann said that he did, but not in the sense of the final phase of the war. In that sense, he elaborated, the enemies were the columns of the Russian armies and the American bombers.

Eichmann insisted, under Hausner’s hammering, that what he actually did was to mention the number “five” three times “rhetorically” when his subordinates began to crack as defeat became inevitable and he urged on them a “last stand.” In recapitulating the toll of the war, he said, he mentioned 5, 000, 000 Germans, 5, 000, 000 enemies and 5, 000,000 Jews.


Mr. Hausner then asked him if he considered the Nuremberg death sentences on Nazi leaders as Just for implementing Hitler’s personal order to wipe out European Jewry. He replied affirmatively, basing his reply on his argument that as responsible leaders, the Nazis had to bear the consequences of their actions–but that this could not be applied to lower rank officers who had to carry out orders.

In the final phase of his self-defense testimony, Eichmann categorically declared that his conscience was clear. Dr. Servatius had asked him about an alleged statement in which he had said he regarded himself as war criminal No. One in the eyes of the Allies, and that he had on his conscience the killing of 6,000, 000 enemies of the Reich.

“I have not on my conscience one single death,” he replied. “I never ordered any killing.”

The question and the reply were the climax of 62 hours of self-defense testimony. He argued that it was “difficult” to evaluate the question of guilt. There was such a thing as technical, legal guilt which was different from human guilt, he said.

“I wore a uniform. It was wartime,” he said, adding that those who spoke of evading orders did not realize that this was not possible for “the little man” in the Nazi hierarchy, especially for one who bore “secret orders.”

After much soul-searching regarding his Nazi role, he said, he regretted and condemned every action in the annihilation of Jews which was ordered “by authority” about which he could do nothing as a cog with strong superiors and powerful force and a fate which knew no mercy.

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